Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sudden death in young athletes: EKG for young jocks is a poor predictor of future trouble, expert argues

Date:
April 5, 2011
Source:
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Summary:
An Israeli expert argues that expensive EKG tests are unlikely to prevent Sudden Death Syndrome, which affects fewer than three athletes out of 10,000. The cardiologist argues that public money would be better spent on effective testing for other diseases, and cautions that "false positives" could be harmful to a young athlete's morale, self-image and future career.

The sudden death of a young athlete always prompts full media attention, most recently spurring a call for preventative screening methods, including costly electrocardiogram (EKG) tests for all school-age athletes. But a new study by Dr. Sami Viskin of Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine found that these screening measures, which are now mandatory in Israel and other countries, does not reduce the incidence of sudden death syndrome.

"There's a lot of debate about this in the U.S. right now," says Dr. Viskin, even though cardiac arrest in athletes remains very rare. The evidence that EKG screenings can reduce the incidence of sudden death is limited and questionable, his research confirms.

The new study appears in the March 15, 2011, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Numbers don't lie

Although always shocking, sudden death syndrome occurs in fewer than three athletes out of 100,000. Because he is a specialist in cardiac arrhythmia, the main underlying factor in sudden death syndrome, Dr. Viskin had a hunch that screening athletes served no purpose in preventing the syndrome.

Examining retrospective data from 1985 to 2009, he reported that there were 24 documented cases of sudden death or cardiac arrest among competitive athletes in Israel. Eleven of these cases occurred prior to 1997, when a mandatory screening law was passed, and 13 occurred after the legislation had been enacted. The rate of sudden death in athletes was nearly identical in the decade before and the decade after the mandatory medical screening was put in place, he says.

A warning for American legislators

American legislators who are considering laws to mandate screening for young athletes should think twice before enacting the legislation, Dr. Viskin says. The tests demonstrate no ability to reduce the incidence of sudden death -- and "false positives" could be harmful to a young person's morale and future as an athlete.

"An abnormal EKG might come up in 10 percent of all the athletes being screened. A huge number would then have to undergo extensive and expensive additional testing. Because of the rarity of the phenomenon these tests are meant to prevent, over 30,000 athletes would have to be screened to save one life," Dr. Viskin says.

The U.S. Olympics Team is already conducting these screenings in the U.S., and if a more comprehensive law was passed, that would mean $2 billion in tests for millions of American athletes, according to the American Heart Association. Dr. Viskin argues that the cost does not justify the risk, and that public money is better spent on more effective testing for other diseases, like high blood pressure and colon cancer.

He also cautions that the screening test can negatively affect people's lives. "We'd be forcing these unnecessary tests on both amateur and professional athletes. There's little justification for mandatory screening when there's limited proof that such a preventative strategy actually works," he says.

Athletes who do screen as being at risk for sudden death, he notes, usually manage to play sports anyway, seeking out -- and finding -- second, third and fourth opinions that contradict the first. Other athletes will find arenas where they won't be monitored. "The chances of really making a big difference with screening are minute," Dr. Viskin concludes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Friends of Tel Aviv University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Arie Steinvil, Tamar Chundadze, David Zeltser, Ori Rogowski, Amir Halkin, Yair Galily, Haim Perluk, Sami Viskin. Mandatory Electrocardiographic Screening of Athletes to Reduce Their Risk for Sudden DeathProven Fact or Wishful Thinking? Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2011; 57 (11): 1291 DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2010.10.037

Cite This Page:

American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "Sudden death in young athletes: EKG for young jocks is a poor predictor of future trouble, expert argues." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110405102206.htm>.
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. (2011, April 5). Sudden death in young athletes: EKG for young jocks is a poor predictor of future trouble, expert argues. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110405102206.htm
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "Sudden death in young athletes: EKG for young jocks is a poor predictor of future trouble, expert argues." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110405102206.htm (accessed July 26, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Too Few Teens Receiving HPV Vaccination, CDC Says

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is blaming doctors for the low number of children being vaccinated for HPV. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins